Rural Metro Receives Hefty Penalty

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman

Knoxville (WVLT) - The ambulance company you depend on to respond to your emergencies in Knox County is facing an expensive penalty.

Rural Metro must pay Knox County $97,500 for violations of their contract.

Jim Freeman found out what they're doing to fix the problem.

"When seconds count, count on us." That’s Rural Metro's slogan.

And at this very second, rural metro is making changes to make sure it lives up to that slogan.

When you need an ambulance, you want the quickest response possible, but recently for Knox Countians.

"That's been down,” says Knox County Health Department Director Mark Jones. “The response time has been down on that specific part of the contract."

And while that may be a scary thought for you, for Rural/Metro, it's a costly thought.

"We've asked for a corrective plan of action that we will be receiving this week,” Jones says.

It's due out Wednesday. But changes are already taking place.

"Changes were made this past weekend,” Jones says. “Their performance level for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday was back to normal."

"Just yesterday, we were at 92.3% compliance,” says Tre Hargett, Rural Metro southern region vice president.

Mark Jones calls Rural/Metro's contract with Knox County one of the strictest in the country.

Ambulances must arrive on the scene of an emergency call within 10 minutes 90 percent of the time.

Rural/Metro responded to more than 60,000 calls over the past year. More than half of those were emergency calls. That's almost 3,000 calls a month.

Calls were up in May. Rural/Metro fell short of its 90 percent goal.

"What it boils down to though is we've had a real problem hiring paramedics. It's a nationwide, statewide, and even a problem that affects us here in Knox County,” says Hargett.

Rural/Metro is quickly taking steps to shore up its staff.

"In the last four days, we've hired eight new employees,” Hargett says.

Mark Jones says he expects superior service for Knox Countians.

"This past month was a bump in the road. By the end of July, we believe we're gonna be fully compliant and exceeding compliance. And the people here in Knox County are going to get the service they deserve,” Hargett says.

Volunteer TV will have more on that corrective plan of action when it's released Wednesday.

Rural Metro is offering a $6,000 bonus to new paramedics.

To apply, visit the link below or apply in person at 910 Callahan Road.


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